A Summary of the Usefulness of Weather Alert Radio
Michael G. Redman (original article) -- Michael S. "Mac" Miller (update & revisions)
Weather-Alert Radios are the best method of obtaining both routine weather information and weather watches and warnings. Weather-Alert Radios, sometimes referred to as Tone-Alert Weather Radios are available from many electronics stores and are reasonably priced. These units feature battery backup, external antenna jack, external speaker jack, and a jack for an external alerting device, ideal for the hearing impaired. They are small desk-top units, portable units, or sophisticated radios mounted in radio equipment racks. All manufactured today are capable of operating on all seven National Weather Service frequencies, and are programmable with Selective Message Area Encoder (SAME) functions.
Weather-Alert Radios function in a manner similar to a pager. Once programmed and connected to an electrical source, the units remain quiet until a watch or warning is issued. They then emit an alerting tone followed by the message. After the message, the units return to a quiet state. Newer units will scroll a message indicating the nature of the threat, so you will be made aware if you were away from the radio. A monitor button allows monitoring of the weather frequency for weather forecasts and information at any time, as the unit is operational 24 hours a day. The units are tested on Wednesdays around 11:00 AM. Weather-Alert Radios will sound an alarm for the test or scroll a message that the test was received. If your unit does not respond to these tests, it needs attention or replacement. Be sure to disconnect electrical power from time to time to check the internal battery.
Weather-Alert Radios have been readily available for at least the last twenty years, but receive little media attention. These radios are the fastest and most reliable method of receiving weather watch and warning information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will alert you of the urgent message even if you are in sound slumber. Outdoor warning sirens are just that " outdoor warning sirens" and not designed to warn you indoors. Depending on the radio or television stations you are monitoring, weather information may or may not be provided. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is not consistently activated either. For their relatively low cost, this is an item that should be considered as essential as a smoke alarm, and they should be in every home, school, public gathering point, church, community center- basically everywhere. This is something you need!
For more information go to:
Everything You Need To Know About NOAA Weather Radios